It's been almost a month since Googoosh's concert in San Francisco and I still feel dizzy. In the past few days my life has been virtually paralyzed and I just could not bring myself to write about it or think about anything else. I am quite sure all those 7,000 people who were there at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium share this feeling with me. It was not my first Googoosh concert and just a few weeks back I attended her phenomenal performance at the Great Western Forum, but each time we see her on the stage she has many new things to offer. Actually we are a gang who follow the diva to almost any destination.
But why do we do that? I mean why do we have to leave our jobs and take leaves just to go to another city to see her and watch her and smell the air of Googoosh? What brings all these thousands of dedicated fans who keep going to her concerts over and over again? What does this woman have to offer to us which is so novel yet so old that has kept generations loyal to her for half a century? Witnessing the huge number of Iranian-American of all ages that attended these last few concerts made me even more confused and bewildered? Who is this woman and why an entire nation love her so much? The story of my own love-affair with Googoosh goes back to over 35 years ago. I would like to share it all with you.
I was a small child and full of happiness, living in the world of fantasy. And there was this lovely voice and beautiful face everywhere. This strange but melodic name, Googoosh, heard all over the place, as common as hello and goodbye. And I grew up with her and her heavenly songs like GHESSE VAFA, DO MAHI, GHESSE GOO, GOL O GOLDOON. We used to see her almost everywhere, on TV, on the screen and magazine covers. She has always been a chameleon regarding her looks and clothing.
And whenever we needed someone to comfort us or share our moments of happiness or sadness, she was always around. Her records were just a few meters away right across the room. All those magical songs of JADDEH, HAMKHOONE, ADAMA, …. . And we would sing along and always be happy. I remember one of the most interesting hobbies in my life was collecting her photos out of newspaper and magazine clippings. In fact my Googoosh Scrapbook was among the few momentos of my childhood that I took with me to the states.
And I saw her. I was 10 years old and staying with my prents in Motel Ghoo, where she was supposed to perform for a week and my parents attended almost all those nightly events but I was so sad and asked them why I could not go with them. So one morning a hotel servant took me to see her in the hotel cafeteria. She was sitting at a table having breakfast with another lady, a pink shawl over her shoulders and a soft breeze in her short hair. I remember her soft pink lipsticks and beautifully manicured fingernails moving on the utensils and the napkin. She warmly welcomed me and asked my name and kissed me and allowed me to kiss her. And she smelled so good.
I can still feel the softness of her cheeks on mine and the perfume of her hair. Then she went to Italy and there were all kind of news about her not being able to come back to Iran and one day we heard that she won the first prize and the golden record in the Midem music festival in Cannes for the song Je'entende Crier Je'taime so I sent a postcard to her in care of the address given in one magazine. A few weeks later the postman arrived and my Mom called me from downstairs, “Mehrnaz, there is a letter for you …. from Rome…. Who in the heaven would you have in Italy to send you a letter?” and .
My third contact with her was almost 7 years later when I was in high school and I saw her in Anjoman Banovan in Kahk street where she was supposed to attend. The street was full of people and there were many many people both inside and outside the building. I remember there were even people on the walls and trees and everybody wanted to have a small glimpse of her. She brought all of us to our feet for two straight hours and made a memorable evening for us. I still remember her white gown and shiny chestnut hair. The next year, a few months before the revolution we went to the of Moghadam Textile manufacturing company and saw her perform again this time in a silver satin, singing for hours.
Then the revolution happened and the lady of happiness went into the vertigo of darkness and seclusion. There were rumors all about her and although she stopped from being present on the stage the flames of her love never extinguished in our hearts. I left Iran and resided in the US but I remembered her and wished for her happiness and health all those years. I spent hours praying for her safety, wishing for the impossible dream of seeing her again. Her voice and photos were the one and only companion of my life like a friend caressing my broken heart, trying to heal the injuries of being away from my mother land. Her songs smelled of the splendor and beauty of country we left behind.
When the news of her come-back on May 2000 arrived nobody took it seriously, but this time it was true. She had gotten out of the country to see us. The very first photos of her were released shortly and we could still see that familiar gentleness and passion deep into those black eyes. Her press conference was aired and we saw her talking for the first time, a fragile woman, tired and broken, yet strong and willful talking with her fans after two decades of silence.
In exile, she was not safe from enemies and their slandering either. There were all kinds of verbal attacks and she never replied. Not one single syllable to prove her innocence. And we believed her honesty and welcomed her with open arms, filling sport arenas with unprecedented crowds in her honor. Now we had a diva and she proved to deserve all those years of waiting and praying. She started in Canada with a sold-out concert of 15,000 and her tour climaxed in Los Angeles with three prestigious concerts in Great Western Forum and the Staple Center, each with a crowd of 18,000 loving fans. Each time inside the arena I looked at complete strangers thinking to myself , ” all these guys have stories like me and they are here to enliven their own memories of their good-old-days”.
She made us laugh, cry, dance, sing along and cry again with one small movement of her hands or eyes. And her voice….. aah her voice was stronger and more beautiful than ever. Then we followed her to New York, Washington DC, Houston, Las Vegas as if trying to absorb the very last pieces of love emanated from her, thinking she would never come back again. Then the second tour in the year 2003 and sold out events in the Forum and …
Then I met her again last year in Thomas and Mack for the second time in person and took her in my arms and pressed her to my heart. Her cheeks were softer than the previous time and there was still that strange aroma coming from her lovely golden hair. Although I was not a ten year old child any more, she was the same graceful, kind lady having a black fur on her shoulders, asking my name for the second time in my life. for me and .
I saw her yet another time in the . She kindly took my bouquet of flowers and thanked me. for me and her fans in Iran and we took another photo.
And recently in LA and San Francisco she gave the very best performances of her life. She was moving and singing all at once. I had never seen her like this in my whole life. She brought thousands of fans to their feet for two straight hours. She made us laugh with her new and funny banters and created such a warm and wonderful atmosphere that nobody wanted to leave the arena and long after the lights were out on the stage people were still seated and asked for encore.
I am going to her upcoming concert in Las Vegas this Christmas. Helen, Mani, Kami, Sima,Nazi and …. are coming too. Even Ali is coming all the way from Toronto. But why? I have asked many people but nobody seems to really know the reason. The thing is we go to her concerts over and over again and each time we are not yet satisfied and want more. But why? Why after all these years her songs are still fresh? And why while political leaders can hardly mobilize a couple of hundreds for a demonstration she is the one and only Iranian on the face of the earth that could gather 18,000 compatriots under one roof?
Why after so many personal attacks and unfair accusations against her people still fill concert halls for her? If you know the answer please let me know because I have no idea. The only thing I know is that people love her and will support her because she is there for us. Maybe they want to thank her for being their diva or maybe they just want to tell her “Thank you Googoosh jan, for everything. Thanks for caressing the hearts of a nation in the past half a century.